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Who’s paying the bill?
Not so fast.
That’s Amtrak’s response to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s pronouncement that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should withhold rent payments, amounting to about $50 million a year, to pay for the MTA’s buses, ferries and other backup plans during emergency repairs on Amtrak’s tracks at Penn Station this summer.
In a letter Wednesday morning to MTA interim Executive Director Veronique Hakim and acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer, Amtrak called the notion of the MTA and Long Island Rail Road withholding payment a “clear violation of our agreements with LIRR.”
“Stopping payments to Amtrak required by LIRR’s contracts and federal law will immediately trigger contract disputes under our agreements . . .” Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman wrote.
Moorman said the Penn Station tracks need more investment, not less, and that withholding funds from Amtrak would make commuters’ experience worse, not better.
At a feisty MTA board meeting Wednesday afternoon, several board members seemed to agree that making Amtrak pay is not the right solution, and they objected to a public fight with the federal corporation. Cuomo’s presence loomed large. It was, after all, his idea to have Amtrak foot the bill. Veronica Vanterpool, a board appointee of Mayor Bill de Blasio, argued that the board has been “neutered,” and has lost its independence and autonomy, a continuation of the fight between the mayor and governor.
Meanwhile, Hakim, who is in the running to be the permanent head of the MTA, told the board she will consult with attorneys to determine how to respond to Moorman’s letter.
Randi F. Marshall
Now that the State Senate has approved a bill to block Suffolk County from imposing a 5-cent fee on disposable plastic bags, it’s worth remembering what happened in February when New York City’s 5-cent fee was stopped.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to kill the city’s plan, but then announced he would form a task force to come up with a statewide plan on how to deal with the bags.
So, how’s the task force doing? It has met twice, with no agreement on what to do yet. Cuomo promised a report and new legislation by year’s end.
That’s around when Suffolk’s fee is set to take effect at the start of 2018. But that’s long after Long Beach started imposing its own 5-cent fee, on Earth Day in April.
Long Beach, curiously, is not mentioned in the new Senate bill. Perhaps it’s just too small an ox to gore.
Cloudy with a chance of politics
Foxy young pol
Joshua Lafazan, the young politico who made a name for himself by winning a seat on the Syosset school board while still in high school, laid out a very millennial platform Wednesday morning before a national audience on “Fox & Friends.”
Lafazan, 23, wants to focus on fighting opioid and heroin abuse as a Nassau County legislator. He’s running as a Democrat against two-term Republican Donald MacKenzie in the 18th District, a well-to-do part of the county that includes Oyster Bay and the Brookvilles.
Lafazan called for a 24-hour assessment center for screening and referrals to treatment, as well as immediate treatment on demand, and more emphasis on opioid education in schools.
“This is my generation,” he told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, adding that “this scourge” is already costing governments a fortune in lost productivity, Medicaid expansion, emergency room visits and “community chaos.” The chyron under his image read “Rising Political Star in Nassau County.”
Will his message resonate with 18th LD voters? At a time when the GOP reputation is tarnished in the Town of Oyster Bay, using Fox to reach beyond his base is an interesting strategy for Lafazan.